Actually, You Have Taught Your Dog To NEVER Come When Called!

It is amazing how many people teach their puppies and dogs the exact opposite of what they think they are working toward!

We think in human terms.

We don’t take time to consider how dogs learn, and how terribly inconsistent we are as humans.

Honestly, if we saw these things through our dog’s eyes, I think we would be much better trainers and owners.

You May Actually Be Teaching Your Dog to NEVER Come When Called

So let’s talk about some of the things we do to our dogs when we call them to come!

This way, you will have a better understanding of why your dog may not be coming to you when he is called.

We Call Them, and Lock Them in Their Crate Before We Leave

What would you think about a word that happens right before your favorite person locks you up, and then leaves?

You see, dogs don’t know English, or German, or any human words of communication.

Dogs build associations with human words.

They often build emotions AND associations with certain words.

If “cookie” means I will always be giving you a tasty treat, but “come” means I have to go to work and you have to go in your crate… how would you feel about the word?

Even if sometimes the word is rewarded and you get praised when you go to your person, how do you know what the word means from one time to the next?

And, again, dogs are not people.

They don’t think like people.

So if they think “coming” means you will crate them and leave; they may very well think that total avoidance of you, and that word, may equal you staying home and them getting to continue to play outside!

If you are going to crate him, use a different command after you already have him… and his attention.

Or just go to him and lead him to his crate.

We Call Them For a Bath

Ever gone into your bathroom with a towel and some dog shampoo and called your dog to come visit you? Come Command, Dog Come when Called, Dog Training, Getting Dog to Come, Puppy Training, Teach Your Dog Come

Chances are he will do this ONCE before he figures out that he doesn’t want to “come” to you; especially in that room.

Baths are kind of scary to dogs.

The sound of the water in the tub can be loud, many people use water that is too hot (remember dogs have a higher temperature than us, and fur!), and slipping on the floor of the tub can be frightening.

This is another time that you need to go to him, put him on a leash, then take him into the bathroom.

Adding a command only conditions him that something scary is about to happen.

We Call Them to Trim Their Nails

This is just like the bath.

There are a lot of things we do to our dogs that they have no desire to have done.

We trim their nails.

We clean their ears.

We medicate them or put drops in their eyes.

None of these are “good” things, or cause them to have happy feelings, so don’t use the most important command that your dog will ever hear, “COME”, when you do these things!

We Call Them When They Are in Trouble

This is another one of my favorites because it illustrates how different dogs are from people.

Unfortunately, we call each other, and our kids when they are in trouble, too, but we can reason.

When my mother was livid with me and shouted, “MINETTE LYN GET IN HERE”, I knew I had two choices: take my knocks early or pretend I didn’t hear her and make her angrier.

Ignoring her wasn’t going to make the problem go away (as children, I think we all wish that it would!).

Ignoring her made my punishment worse.

Also, how I acted and reacted could make my punishment worse or better.

If I got an attitude, it would be worse.

If I was sincerely sorry, it could be better.

But your dog doesn’t have these reasoning skills.Come Command, Dog Come when Called, Dog Training, Getting Dog to Come, Puppy Training, Teach Your Dog Come

He hears your “mad voice” and tries to avoid you at all costs.

You yell “BUDDY COME” because he has eaten your Michael Kors purse, but in his mind, there is no way he is coming to you while you are angry.

He will do his best to avoid you because he doesn’t realize that by doing so he is making you angrier.

He simply thinks he can run around and avoid you until you are back to your normal self.

But his not listening makes you even more livid (it is like getting an attitude with your mom).

Eventually, once you have caught and punished him a few times he may learn to show some placating and submissive behaviors (the dogs that smile, or look “ashamed”), but this is just because they have been harshly punished in the past and are feeding off of your energy.

Please don’t call your dog when he is in trouble!

You are teaching him to avoid the command, and YOU, when you are angry.

We Call Them Away From Having a Good Time

Ever take your dog off leash at the dog park and then try to call him when it is time to leave?

Take him to the park, or even the backyard, and try to call him while he is playing?

It may work, once, but when he learns that “come” means you are taking him away from his favorite pastime, he is much less likely to comply!

“Come”, then, essentially becomes the opposite of what you want!

The “come” command should be the most fun thing your dog does… not something that equals leaving fun behind.

The other problem is that the dog owner usually isn’t out there playing with their dog and calling them to “come” to play with them.

I wrote an article many years ago about training my dog at the dog park, and I swear I have never had more negative comments on any article I have ever written, and I have written a lot of articles in the past eight years!

But, I wanted my dog to pay attention to me; I wanted her to learn to play with me at the dog park.

She didn’t get into trouble for paying attention to the other dogs or playing (although she has never been much of a player), she learned that the fun came from hanging out with me!

So I would frequently call her and throw her ball.

I would call her and let her play tug.

I would call her and feed her.

But 90% of the time or greater, “come” meant something good.

Only occasionally would I call her to leave and, if that was the case, a good game came first.

Most often, if I wanted to leave and end the session, I would wait until she was near me and I would simply hook her up on a leash.

It was also a lot easier once I provided her with the exercise she needed and then left when she was tired; that creates less conflict.

But so many people take their dogs to the dog park, let them off leash, and then just ignore them.

They will read a book or play on social media.

No wonder so many dogs are killing each other at dog parks. Lately, the owners are nowhere near to stop a problem before it becomes an aggressive event.

I can tell you I was always within a few yards of my dog and always watching her interact.

I don’t want my dog to be killed at a dog park.

And, if there is an aggressive dog, I want a dog that has a good recall, or “COME” so that I can gather her up and leave!

Having a great recall is essential and, at some point, your dog’s life may depend on it!


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  1. Terri says:

    I adopted a pit bull she is a very sweet girl. When we leave her she chews on blankets or pillows she will go many days and not do a thing than I will come home like today and she chewed an end of a pillow. She has plenty of toys and bones to chew on. I don’t like to crate her because my two smaller dogs run free in the house. Any ideas


    Minette Reply:

    I would crate her. Within the last week (I work as a vet tech) I have seen one dog die from eating chocolate and another have to have emergency surgery to have jeans and socks removed from his infected bowels.

    Crates save lives


  2. Angie Smallfoot says:

    I have a 1 yr.old GSD, very smart. But, he has Hypokenesis. On prozac, but he won’t listen and impossible at times.


  3. Mary Shields says:

    There is a lot of truth in what you are talking about. My dachshunds won’t go out to potty thru the doggy door unless I clap my hands and say I will be here when you get back. When they come inside I say in a friendly voice ‘where have you been missed you and give them a hug and a pat on their back gently and they will go and do their thing (sleep). But if all I say is let’s go out they just stare at me like I am an Idiot.


  4. Sue byrne says:

    Hi. Brilliant article. Makes so much sense. Can you advise me on my problem. My dog and his buddy and my human friend go out together. We play with them and generally stay close, although they do run around in trees, sniffing or chasing. Mostly they are really good mates and run side by side but sometimes my dog wants to just sniff but his buddy wants to annoy him, running up to him, jumping over him and nudging him. My dog will get really cross and make growly noises and pull at his cheeks. They don’t seem to actually hurt but we can’t catch either, they are too fast. Calling them obviously doesn’t work, they don’t notice us. And it can get out of hand. Don’t want them on leads all the time. Thank you


  5. Anne says:

    This is great advice on why dogs ignore a command to “come!” I have a rescue that was trained correctly by someone before I adopted her. It is so amazing that no matter where she is or what she is doing, she comes to me immediately when called. But only if I say her name first! Fortunately, a trainer taught me years ago to always say the dog’s name before giving any command to get his or her attention and let her know I am addreessing her. It works. I will definitely follow your advice to not overdo asking her to come when the reason is going to be something negative like calling her inside from playing or putting drops in her eyes! I don’t want to ruin her training by her learning that my command to come could be a bad thing!
    Also, I have another dog, which is another reason to say her name first. The other dog no longer comes when I command her to and it took me months to realize that she is not ignoring me. She is now deaf. I am trying to teach her a hand signal to come but she has to be looking at me and see my hand first in order to obey and am having a tough time with that issue. I mention deafness because it is not uncommon in older dogs and is something to keep in mind to have checked out if a dog was previously responsive and then starts seeming to ignore commands.


  6. Jerry says:

    I love your information you give , it teaches me how to train my doberman making her my best friend for life. Thank you


  7. Jim says:

    Yup. My neighbor’s dog swallowed a tennis ball whole and had to have it surgically removed.


  8. Sonja says:

    When my bloodhound who is 6 months, gets on a scent, he is TOTALLY numb to my commands, when otherwise he is very good. I have a 5 acre field we always walk and play in. I’m afraid to let him off leash or take to a dog park because of it. He’s 90 lbs now and expected to be 125. Thanks


    Minette Reply:

    I would get a head halter


  9. PamV says:

    You dog is demonstrating it is not ready for the “freedom” level of responsibility and may never be. If you are at work you can get her a crate that is large enough to stand up and turn around in AND lay fully on its side with legs extended. Add a water dish for extended stays. Frozen Kong’s, bones. Not stuff it can break parts off (plastics) . If able come home at lunch to let it out to potty and stretch. Better co fined than in emergency surgery for foreign object removal and a whole lot cheaper. $ 1800 for an ingested glove was my wake up moment. We almost lost our precious dog.


  10. S. Morris says:

    My dog is a german shephard 3 yrs old who became injured due to hip dysplasia and she is more aggressive than she was. I am disable so I cannot do alot of activities with her. I walk her and get in the back area to play fetch with her, however she will not bring the you back to me. If I say come she does not move. If I attempt to get it she will run. That is a problem because I cannot catch her even though she can barely walk or run. I tried to put a tool I purchased from Petco where I place it in the ground and chain her too it so we can play and she pulled it, bent it right out the ground. All I can say is come. Which she ignores. The only thing that has worked but is a danger for me is to act like I have fallen. She will come to me immediately and sit on me or by me. The problem is I cannot get up due to my disability. What am I doing wrong? I want her to be happy! She is one of the reasons I get out of bed everyday.


  11. Lynne says:

    My dogs always come when called! I make sure they’ve played long enough and they get a big pat or cuddle when they do, and told how good they are! Usually I go for coffee and they get a chewy treat while I chat with friends, then we walk home and another shorter play in the park. We always have fun


  12. rosemary howard says:

    I’m so blessed with my “one eyed Peak. He’s always fine at home alone,,,sleeping, no crate. He was crated when a puppy, but after about a year, he did fine, without a crate. He’s 10 now and still a joy to have, as part of the family.


  13. frances says:

    any suggestions to keep a 20 dog (large breed) indor kennel from barking into a frenzie at feeding time>


  14. Sharon says:

    My oldest rescue Corgi loves his crate. I’m retired now, so seldom have to crate him when I’m not there anymore, but he goes in his crate frequently during the day when I’m here. It’s his den and “safe spot.” He likes to take his toys and his treats in there. If you properly introduce your dog to a crate and encourage him to go in and out at will when you are home, he won’t mind being in it when you are gone. Dogs are “den” animals, so crates are not cruel if you don’t leave your dog in there all the time. Never use a crate to punish your puppy, or they won’t like it, understandably.


  15. Cindy says:

    How do I get my 1yr. old dog to stop jumping up on certain people to greet them. He does good for certain people and on leash he sits. But when the others come he jumps up and goes squirrely in greeting them.


  16. Wendy Carter says:

    Really good article and advice. I’ve dabbled in dog training in the past and this is exactly the kind of article I would forward to clients. Good stuff.


    Minette Reply:

    Thank you 🙂


  17. Trudy v says:

    I have two little dogs and they’ve never gone potty in the house. I put pee papers down but they seems to hold it until I get home. They come when I call them. They know what play, park, walk, nap, are. They are very sweet and good. Both are rescued


  18. Andrew says:

    My dog has learned that getting “off leash” means run and fun — free time. Then I see people walking their dogs off-leash with the dog right by their side. So I realize I have inadvertantly taught my dog to NOT stay by me when off-leash. How can that training now be undone if I ever want him to walk by my side off-leash?


  19. My 6 mo. Old puppy has started eating tissues and rocks! I try to keep bathroom door closed so she cant get in trash, but I have a backyard w a rock path so cant keep her out of the rocks. Any ideas?


  20. Naomi McClarrinon says:

    If you havent let the dog you are the boss, then they get frustrated when you leave. You have to be the one in charge and that will change. Dont have to be mean, just the boss. Alpha, it really helps.


  21. Sylvia says:

    My pet will come if I have treats in my hand, or getting ready to leave, when I take her to the park she wants to leave with other dogs. So I prefer not, we live near the street and the park is across the street which is dangerous a few pets nearly got killed on the street. Besides that my pet is adorable, and she makes me happy with her funny tricks. She goes to the closet and try to get her coat.when she knows is time for walks.


  22. Jenny Powers says:

    Why would our dog who usually pees and poops on a mat in the bathroom, occasionally poop on our bed where he spends most of his day?


  23. Julie says:

    Minette, I’m desperate for help with my two dogs. I have a 7 year old chihuahua and a 2 year old beagle jack Russell mix we rescued less then a year ago. The dogs sometimes coexist fine and occasionally even attempt play. But the new dog occasionally attacks the chihuahua. Of course in the moment I’m screaming and freaking out, which I know only incites her attack more, but in the moment I’m terrified. What can I do to discourage the beagle from attacking the chihuahua?


    Minette Reply:

    I would put the aggressor on leash in the house and work on more obedience. Instead of yelling you should be able to give a command and have the dog comply


  24. Wayne Dent says:

    Precious story about your dog going to the closet for her/his coat at a prompt from you indicating a walk! I had to get over the guilt I felt when crating my puppy. Indeed, when they are young, it is important to teach them NOT to chew electrical wires as in extension cords and lamp cords etc. Definitely, crate your dog at night while you sleep until you’re absolutely sure that that learned dangerous tendency is no longer an issue! The last thing you want is for your dog to be electrocuted while you sleep. They actually learn to rest easily in their crates and feel secure in their den (crate).


  25. Hannelore says:

    I dont do any of the above things, and he still does not come all the time, he is a Tamaskan and VERY smart and stubborn


  26. Jim says:

    We have a six month female pit…vrry sweet… But . we can not get her yo not jump on everyone in. The house…its a nervous crazy energy..and her nails…are sharp .. Of course ..she dose not relize shes hurtong everyone in the house.. And its ..not grtying any better shes getting bigger and stronger..and we are tired of scratches..and band aids and any info …❤


  27. Mary says:

    So how do you get them to come to you.


  28. Karen Boer says:

    Great article. I made those mistakes and when I realised it, I changed my dog’s name so she would enjoy coming when called by that name. Only vets call her by her original name now. She answers to both but prances when answering to her new name. In fact she comes immediately… never do I call her by name before crating her.


  29. D.G. says:

    Hi Terry. I’ve got a pittie that had the same problem. I found a couple things to be true: she needed something desirable and FUN that she was allowed to chew on while I left. Be careful though because some chewables like raw hide “bones” have been rumored to be dangerous for dogs to chew unattended. Secondly, I realized the ROOT of the chewing for my dog was anxiety. So I only left her in 2 hr maxium spurts and walked her and interacted with her in between. Maybe you can find a dog walker to stop by and break up the long day alone for your dog with some attention and walking exercise. Remember dogs are created to be free roaming, continually trekking along, pack animals. So maybe your pup needs more of that type of activity and attention.


  30. Linda says:

    I agree with you. My husband still thinks the dog “knows better” and scolds him after the fact. We have a lot of disagreements over this.


  31. Ross Clark says:

    I had an unusual experience with my sister’s dog. I was looking after her for a while. Whenever I took her outside, I would have her on a leash. But this time, for some reason, I didn’t. As soon as I let her out, she took off, to a busy street. It was fairly late at night, fortunately, so it wasn’t that busy, at the time. She stuck to the sidewalk, and I followed on foot, all the time saying “Come”. But to no avail. I gave up after a while, and started walking back home. My plan at that point was to get my bike, and catch up to her. I hadn’t gone far, before I happened to look around, and saw her right behind me. I picked her up, and carried her back. She offered no resistance. From this, I have concluded that if you keep following a dog, the dog concludes that it is doing the right thing, no matter what you say.


  32. Mercedes says:

    We have a Jack Russell, two years old. He is free at home walking every room, sometimes he goes to sleep by itself in his crate that is open, never eat or brake anything.
    The problems is when we want to leave the house, he doesn’t let us to go. He starts barking as soon as he see we were shoes, and never stop. It is always a problem because of that, we don’t feel good crating him.


  33. Jennifer says:

    I have a pitbull. Definitely create! I was super opposed but dogs are den animals. If you get the proper size for your dog they actually end up loving their create. And, it keeps your things from being turn up and creates a safe happy place of their own.


  34. Becky Salyer says:

    Hi, I have a 1/ 1/2 yr old golden retriever. He stays in the house with us a lot or in the garage in a 12x 12 fenced area. We have a large dog run in the yard and take him out to play with him there. He’s still young and a chewer and have to monitor closely. He’s a sweet dog but during play time he gets aggressive with me and wants to snap and play rough to the point it scares me sometimes. I think he has an Alph attitude. He’s not aggressive at any other time. I think he senses my intimidation. Help! How can we stop his behavior? We took him to obedience training early on and learned some things but this has started since we had the training. I want to eventually train him to be a therapy dog but feel like we are not ready for that. He’s super energetic.


  35. Sue says:

    I had a wonderful dog who also lost her hearing. I found if you stomp your foot they can feel the vibration & begin to look around for you. Obviously this only works if you are somewhat close to the dog but it does work


  36. Sam says:

    Very informative article and something I hadn’t considered before. I second an earlier comment that asks how you make your dog come to you if you aren’t meant to use the command for situation with negative connotations. Those would be far more than when I ask my dog to come to me for a positive reason.
    Looking forward to your response!


    Minette Reply:

    You go get the dog


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